Hervé This' Chocolate Mousse

By • February 10, 2012 75 Comments

2,455 + Save

If you like it, save it!

Save and organize all of the stuff you love in one place.

Got it!

If you like something…

Click the heart, it's called favoriting. Favorite the stuff you like.

Got it!

Author Notes: It took a brilliant, adventurous chemist to discover the simplest way to make chocolate mousse at home. Hervé This, the father of molecular gastronomy, discovered how to make a flawless, creamy chocolate mousse out of just chocolate and water.

This all happens fast as the mixture cools, so chances are you'll go too far on your first try. Don't worry — just return it to the pan, melt it, and start over (see step 3). Once you have the rhythm down, you can flavor it as you wish with liqueurs or coffee or spices, sweeten it to your liking, or just keep it dark and intense. In all of these scenarios, a little whipped cream up top is never a bad idea. Adapted from Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor (Columbia University Press, 2008)
Genius Recipes

Serves 4

  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) water
  • 8 ounces chocolate (we used 70% bittersweet — choose a high quality chocolate you love)
  • ice cubes
  • whipped cream for topping (optional)
  1. Simply pour water into a saucepan (which will be improved from the gastronomic point of view if it is flavored with orange juice, for example, or cassis puree). Then, over medium-low heat, whisk in the chocolate. The result is a homogenous sauce.
  2. Put the saucepan in a bowl partly filled with ice cubes (or pour into another bowl over the ice -- it will chill faster), then whisk the chocolate sauce, either manually with a whisk or with an electric mixer (if using an electric mixer, watch closely -- it will thicken faster). Whisking creates large air bubbles in the sauce, which steadily thickens. After a while strands of chocolate form inside the loops of the whisk. Pour or spoon immediately into ramekins, small bowls or jars and let set.
  3. Note: Three things can go wrong. Here's how to fix them. If your chocolate doesn't contain enough fat, melt the mixture again, add some chocolate, and then whisk it again. If the mousse is not light enough, melt the mixture again, add some water, and whisk it once more. If you whisk it too much, so that it becomes grainy, this means that the foam has turned into an emulsion. In that case simply melt the mixture and whisk it again, adding nothing.
  4. Serve immediately, or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream if desired.

More Great Recipes: Chocolate|Desserts

Topics: Hanukkah

💬 View Comments ()

Comments (75) Questions (4)


24 days ago Sara

Question about the water: how long do I wait before whisking in the chocolate? How hot should the water be? Thanks.


3 months ago ATG117



4 months ago Maxine belsky



4 months ago Ingrid Warneryd

I had terrible difficulty getting the consistency correct (even after trying the fixes described in the recipe). After three failed attempts with high quality chocolate, I will be returning to more complicated recipes that produce a more consistent result. Was really hoping that this would be a wonderful, easy mousse!


4 months ago Jane Latimer

Could you make this with coffee instead of water?


4 months ago Renée (RJ Flamingo) Joslyn

Jane, you can absolutely make this with coffee instead of water. Just make sure that it's room temp or colder (not hot!). I've made this with orange juice with excellent results, too.


5 months ago Sam

I've been making chocolate mousse this way for almost 20 years, except I use cream in place of the water which makes a ganache. When the ganache is whipped, it turns into mousse. Very handy for filling and frosting a layer cake. I divide it into 2 parts. Leave one part as is for frosting, and whip the other part for filling. It's also great piped into hollowed out orange halves or onto strawberry halves, made into sandwich cookies (which are good as is and even better when eaten frozen!), made into a pie, or just served in a little dish with whipped cream and maybe a few chocolate shavings.

I really like the idea of this recipe made with water because it contains a lot less fat without the cream, and I won't eat or serve anything that has raw eggs in it, as traditional mousse does. Can't wait to try this! I think I may make some fudgsicles out of it.


5 months ago Transcendancing

Inexplicably this just works! I'm in awe - and it was so easy! Great result too. Texture is very dense, a little like mudcake, but mousse instead. Flavour is intensely chocolatey - best chocolate flavour I've ever had in a mousse and it's delightfully not very sweet, so the chocolate flavour shines. Best of all, it's easy to make just before you need it without having planned ahead.


5 months ago Jackie Joyce

How hot should the water be when you put in the chocolate?


5 months ago roryrabbitfield

What would happen I used 85% dark chocolate?


7 months ago carlito

Que woww. Super easy. Used some gran marnier and plenty of sea salt. I kinda didn't think it would work, but genius recipes prove themselves again


7 months ago Roberta Rosenberg

I have not tried this yet, but am baffled as to why the chocolate doesn't break. Does it break only when you add water to chocolate rather than the reverse??


5 months ago Sam

It has to do with the quantity of water. If you were to add just a small amount, the chocolate would seize up and turn into a thick, sludgy mess. For some reason, adding a larger amount of water or (other liquid) prevents this and will actually mix with it.


7 months ago witloof

What a perfect vegan dessert! We had a lot of fun making this and it was delicious. My friend turned up with chocolate chips, though, and I turned up my nose and sent him back out for Scharffenberger.


8 months ago Jacob

Not sure what i did wrong. Perhaps I didn't have enough fat or didn't whisk long enough. But after refrigerating ours turned out quite thick. My girlfriend described it as "fudgy". We still thought it was yummy and devoured them.


8 months ago mensaque

More fat and more whisking would have made it even thicker.The one in picture looks quite thick to me...


10 months ago arcane54

So easy! and it takes just a few moments of whisking for the chocolate to begin setting. I flavored it with a few drops of orange essential oil and will serve it with lightly sweetened whipped cream. My house was pretty warm today and the mousse began to "unsettle" after a few moments in the ramekins, so next time I'll prechill the containers and get them into the refrigerator more quickly. Pity the poor person who has to lick the bowl, the beaters, the spatula, her fingers...


10 months ago Stacy

Doesn't this need a sweetener of some kind? Or bittersweet chocolate will give it enough?


about 1 year ago Sarah Cherry Jumel

I used this to fill some cookies. It softened the cookies just as a good macaron filling should, so it is on my list for that use!


about 1 year ago Aditi

can the same be done for white chocolate mousse as well?


over 1 year ago borntobeworn

I made this for a party (5 batches) and added 3 Tbs of Chambord to each batch. I topped with fresh whipped cream with some sprinkles of raw sugar. My guests loved it.


over 1 year ago Joyce Oxfeld

Gr8 Three do overs included.


over 1 year ago Eva

This technique always amazes me. The texture is brilliant.

My one issue, though, is that I often end up with mousse that tastes too fruity. You must use high-quality chocolate, but it takes a bit of luck and careful consideration to find the best one for this mousse... I think one that has more "creamy" and "coffee" notes, without any sharp angles in the flavor. Honestly, one of the best ones I've found is the Trader Joe's Pound Plus dark chocolate because it seems to have a very smooth, "chocolatey" flavor.


almost 2 years ago Sashi

Hi .. Can we use it on cake and leave at room temperature in tropical climates ??


almost 2 years ago Rena Jawary

Would this work with white chocolate?


almost 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

We haven't tried it but it might work. I would use high quality white chocolate with a good amount of cocoa butter. Let us know if you try it! You might also want to try this: http://food52.com/recipes...


over 2 years ago Sundeep Dawale

I am having this for desert tonight. Thank you!


over 2 years ago Meatballs&Milkshakes

I whisked this by hand and it didn't really create air bubbles the way I expected it to. I think next time I will use an electric mixer to see what the different texture might be.


over 2 years ago roryrabbitfield

Would this recipe work if I reduced the quantities? I'd like to use a 3 oz chocolate bar and the proportional amount of water.


over 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Yes, it should be fine, but you might want to use a smaller bowl.


over 2 years ago Peachylovecakes

This is a brilliant recipe! My boyfriend and I stumbled upon this tonight when we needed chocolate and were amazed when we got a perfectly textured, tasty mousse out of just chocolate and water.


over 2 years ago Barbara385

Which wisk, flat or balloon, when whipping chocolate by hand for this recipe?


over 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Any should work, though I think I'd go balloon if you have a choice.


over 2 years ago Tricia Summers

Sounds deelish! I'll try it sometime

For great Chocolate Mouse recipes & more, Visit http://cookingwithtricia...


over 2 years ago JuneRoca

What's the chocolate ingredients listed at the back of it? Does it have sugar?


over 2 years ago Janet Paula Lieber

How long will this keep refrigerated?


over 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

In my experience, it held up for a couple days in the fridge. It a little harder and more dense when cold, but still delicious.


over 2 years ago mensaque

Is it really that simple?My favorite dessert made out of my favorite food and my favorite drink...


over 2 years ago nogaga

Has anyone tried this with 90% chocolate?


over 2 years ago Janet Paula Lieber

Is it possible to replace the chocolate with cocoa powder and agave.


over 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Hi Janet, I don't think it would work -- you need the fat in the chocolate to emulsify into a mousse.


over 2 years ago Janet Paula Lieber

If I wanted to add a little agave (I may be using 85% chocolate) do I have to make any changes in the amount of water.


over 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

That's probably not necessary, but be sure to check out step 3 if anything goes awry. Hope you like it!


over 3 years ago Renée (RJ Flamingo) Joslyn

Inspired by this post, I made this Chocolate Orange Mousse Torte, that's kosher for Passover, dairy-free, and gluten-free: http://flamingomusings.... Turned out so great!


over 3 years ago Victoria Carr

I'm interested in this and will probably try it, but to be perfectly honest it sounds too rich to me. Julia Child's mousse is too rich for me, so I imagine this would be over the top; however, having said that, I make a chocolate torte from Lora Brody, which is delicious and very rich - not to be eaten without whipped cream - and I love it.


over 2 years ago Peachylovecakes

I just made this and it is actually really delicately flavored!


over 3 years ago Jodianne

I saw this recipe last night and decided to try it. I didn't think it would work because I am in Jamaica and my kitchen tends to be warmer than most. I thought the bowl of ice wouldn't be enough to cool the chocolate, so I threw my metal bowl in the freezer for awhile just to ensure I could maintain a certain temperature. It came out perfectly. I substituted half of the water with amaretto liqueur and topped with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon. Talk about death by chocolate....My family and I are sold and ready to experiment with different liqueurs and toppings. Thank you Thank you Thank you....from a true chocoholic


over 2 years ago Louise Lister

You replaced HALF of the water with liqueur?!?


over 3 years ago Geni

Never dreamed this would work, but, wow, did it ever! Replaced 1 1/2 - 2 TB of the water with Navan Liqueur and followed directions for melting. Began whisking by hand and, although it really didn't take long to thicken up, I thought my arm would fall off! Wasn't quite sure when to stop, apparently it was just long enough. Served with sweetened whipped cream to which I added more Navan............Ymmmmm!!!


over 3 years ago rosalind5

I made it for a Valentine's Day treat for my husband and 2.5 year old son! I used 62% Cacao Semisweet Chocolate from Scharffen Berger, whisked until the chocolate suddenly went thick and light (it took just a few minutes with an electric whisk), scraped it into ramekins and put them to chill in the fridge. I regretted the latter step, I have to say, chilling the mousse even for 30 minutes or so hardened it. It was still delicious, especially with vanilla whipped cream, but it was nicest at room temperature immediately after I made it. My husband and son


over 3 years ago mrathmel

I made this today too. But, it was a bit of a disappointment...Made at about 4pm and served about 7pm - hard as a rock. Bummer. I did garnish with whipped cream and a few slices of fresh strawberries.
I'm going to try again, but next time I will a) use a less intense dark chocolate (used Trader Joe's 85% Dark - too bitter) and b) serve shortly after I make it.
I love the simplicity of the dessert, but I think I could have used more detail in the directions.


over 2 years ago etsweiler

The results can easily be used to make truffles, and it doesn't stick to your hands while you roll them in cocoa powder.


over 3 years ago Zim

I made this today for my wife. I used straight water and an electric mixer. Richest mousse I've ever had. I made it at 3:00 and ate it at 7:00 it had "set up" but the air bubbles kept it from getting too hard. I'd say eat within an hour of finishing the whipping for best results. We made 4 servings, I'm a big guy and had to force myself to finish it. The chocolate was intense, rich, I felt like I was about to enter a diabetic coma when I'd finished. Yes I'd made whip cream to top, it was too rich without the cream on top.


over 3 years ago joannajw

Well I couldn't believe this would work but in the interests of science :) decided to give it a try. Only made half the recipe as I plan on eating it all myself. SO EASY! I almost skipped supper but I'm fixing that now & will eat this after. It's in the fridge but I did lick the beaters. Once it was in the ice bath I used an electric hand beater & it took about another 3-4 mins, but you can stop at any time as soon as it's stiff enough for your liking.


over 3 years ago NIkiH

I halved the water with Kirsch Liqueur and used 60% (all the store had left). Easy and Delish! Over wisked the first time so re-melted and got it perfect!


over 3 years ago Sindhi

Instead of stevia (which I find has a whang to it) or diet sweeteners (which have nasty chemicals and subvert your desire to lose weight), may I suggest blue agave syrup, which is delicious, low on the glycemic index, and safe for diabetics; it doesn't take much. You can buy it at Costco.


over 3 years ago Renée (RJ Flamingo) Joslyn

Why are you all making this so complicated? Put the water in a pot over medium heat, add the unmelted</> chocolate, and stir till it's melted and makes a smooth sauce. Ice bath, whisk, and poof! Mousse!

I used Scharffen Berger 68% that I treated myself to at Xmas, and have been saving for a special occasion. Not being much of a hand-whisker, I used the number 1 setting (lowest) on my KA stick blender, using the whisk attachment, adding 1 Tbs. sugar & a splash of Kahlua. Yummers! Refrigerating now & going to be V Day dessert tonight! Thank you!!!


over 3 years ago Renée (RJ Flamingo) Joslyn

I neglected to mention that, since I didn't want to break into a third bar of chocolate (they come in 3 oz bars), I used 6 oz chocolate to 4 oz water. Worked perfectly!


over 3 years ago Zim

Amen RJ!!!!!! The water keeps the chocolate from burning--particularly if you use a medium low burner setting. A little stir every once in awhile and in 5-6 minutes viola--melted chocolate ready for the ice bath and mixer.


over 3 years ago InSearchOfLostThyme

This recipe is outrageously simple and delicious! Added a shot of grand marnier and a dash of salt and am looking forward to earning major husband points when I break this dish out on Valentine's Day/ Thanks Genius Recipes!


over 3 years ago Panfusine

Genius?? this?? Its WAAAY beyond that, its sheer madness, insanity.. (evident by the way its making me Rave.. n'est ce pas??), I whipped up some with left over chocolate from making truffles, with some caramelized pineapple & topped with grains of Thai ginger salt..


over 3 years ago LowCarbVegetarian

Thanks Kristen for this great recipe. However, I would like to modify it for diabetics by using 100% unsweetened chocolate and then sweeten it using erythritol and/or stevia. Anyone know how to do that?


over 3 years ago Renée (RJ Flamingo) Joslyn

I generally use xylitol for my sugar- free cooking and baking, now. It measures 1:1 for sugar, tastes, and behaves like sugar. It's also diabetic-safe. I suggest adding it in during the initial cooking stage, to your taste, then proceed with the rest of the procedure.


over 3 years ago Jazzball

I wonder whether this same procedure would work for white chocolate? Also, I have some Taza chocolate Mexicana, which does not have lecithin but has intense flavor and less sugar. I wonder whether there's an ingredient (other than cream) that would provide the emulsifying element?


over 3 years ago ChezShea

In the art world they say "less is more".
Thank You for proving the point so clearly!


over 3 years ago TaffyIsVictory

When it says "let set," does this mean refrigerate? Or is it ready to eat once the whisking's done?


over 3 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Sorry I missed this question! It's ready to eat as soon as it thickens to a consistency you like. Just know that it will continue to set up as it finishes cooling.


over 3 years ago nolongrecipes

I just made this, it took about 5 minutes and is impossibly delicious. I even hand-whisked which I almost never do as it is usually a pain. I used Guittard bittersweet chocolate wafers. This is definitely going in the "greatest hits" roster. Thank you so much!!!


over 3 years ago Betsy Schoettlin

In response to the heat questions below - As a retired chocolatier, I've been making chocolates for years. Now that I no longer have big, fancy machines to melt and temper my chocolate for me, when I need to melt chocolate I use (gasp) the microwave!

I melt on 30% power setting in sessions of .5 - 3 minutes. 3 to get going (if over a lb. of chocolate) and then shorter and shorter. Melt, remove bowl, wait a 1 minute or so, stir and repeat until all is melted. Remember, working (dark) chocolate temperature, when tempered, is about 89* +/-, depending on the chocolate so the temperature does not need to be very high. 89* chocolate will feel cool if touched to your skin just below your lower lip.

Chocolate can be deceptive when it is in the microwave. It does not necessarily lose its form, which is why it's important to remove it and stir. Also - Check that the bowl you are melting in is truly microwave safe. Some glass bowls really heat up and continue to warm the chocolate, another reason why the stirring and waiting is important.

When you remove the chocolate from the microwave, give several good long stirs. Spread that heat and melt around. At the beginning, you want to coat the un-melted bits with the melted bits, to really get things going and make sure you have even heat. Hot spots are bad, bad, bad.

Be sure to use a thermometer! I use an infrared one. Its worth its weight in gold, in my opinion. But a glass or an instant read one works just as well. If you want to be sure that all of the crystals in chocolate have well and truly melted, shoot for between 115* and 120* but NOT OVER 120*. If you have accidentally crept over 120* then stir, stir, stir, to cool down and you can probably save the chocolate.

For this recipe, where the chocolate and water are heated together, you will likely get best results with well chopped chocolate, even if it is already in "discos". Just heat in the microwave, as above, until all is melted and smooth. Stir in a small circle in the middle, with the whisk, until emulsification starts (begins to look like mayonnaise) and then expand to bring in more and more until all is emulsified and homogeneous.

Then just follow the rest of the recipe.

Bon Apetit & I hope this helps!


over 3 years ago creamtea

Yes, please tell us whether direct heat & at what level?


over 3 years ago Genius Recipes

Thanks for asking! I just clarified the recipe. Honestly, This doesn't go into much detail, but the recipe is so forgiving that it doesn't matter. I just made sure not to crank it up high enough to burn the chocolate before it melts.


over 3 years ago BurgeoningBaker

Okay but this recipe says nothing about using any heat to melt the chocolate or what heat it should use. Am I reading this wrong?


over 3 years ago Tarragon

I had the same questions - if you look at the slide show it says a few minutes of simmering and stirring, no double boiler needed.


over 3 years ago Bevi

This looks like about the easiest chocolate dessert ever -


over 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Yay--you did it!